Fresh from cutting manager Mike Matheny loose the night before, KC Royals Executive Vice President and General Manager J.J. Picollo met with writers and broadcasters at Kauffman Stadium Thursday.
He didn’t introduce Matheny’s replacement; it was much too soon for that.
Nor did he list any frontrunners for the position.
Picollo did, however, per Kansas City Star KC beat writer Lynn Worthy (Twitter link), identify bench coach Pedro Grifol and third base coach Vance Wilson as candidates for the job.
Expect Grifol to get the longer look.
But why is either coach on Picollo’s list? That the club is considering any member of Matheny’s staff is curious given how swiftly Picollo moved to dismiss both his former manager and pitching coach Cal Eldred, who were gone before the first sunrise of the club’s offseason. And losing teams frequently prefer clean slates and shy away from replacing fired managers with members of their staffs.
Grifol, though, is a strong candidate the Royals shouldn’t refuse to interview simply because he worked for Matheny.
Pedro Grifol can provide the KC Royals with the right kind of continuity.
Although counting as a positive the ability to give a last-place club that just lost 97 games continuity may sound strange, continuity may be a virtue in Kansas City’s case.
But it must be the appropriate kind, and that’s something Grifol can bring to the table.
Grifol knows the players and the bosses. They know him. They’ve established relationships with each other. No significant adjustments to personalities, whims, or idiosyncrasies will be necessary. Everyone will know from day one, even before spring training opens in February, what to expect from everyone else. Grifol’s role will change, but not so much that he or his players should feel uncomfortable.
Grifol can, simply put, provide a smooth transition.
A varied resumé justifies the KC Royals placing Pedro Grifol on their list.
Although he’s interviewed for other big league managerial positions in the past (including the Kansas City job Dayton Moore gave Matheny) but never landed one, Grifol deserves strong consideration from Kansas City. He’s done just about everything he can to prepare to manage in the majors.
There’s Grifol’s three-season tenure as Matheny’s bench coach. Before that, he held a variety of coaching positions on Ned Yost’s staffs, including special assignment coach, hitting coach, and catching and quality control coach.
He spent a season as a coach with the Mariners and managed three seasons in Seattle’s minor league system, including an 83-57 record at High Desert in 2012. He was also a scout, coordinator of instruction, and operations director for the Mariners.
Pedro Grifol can hit the ground running if the KC Royals name him manager.
Grifol won’t need time to familiarize himself with this club’s weaknesses and strengths if he becomes its manager. He knows it inside and out and realizes what, in its current state, the team can and can’t do.
He also realizes trips to the World Series, if they come at all, won’t come overnight. Grifol promising too much too soon, or expecting too much too soon, aren’t likely. So unrealistic goals won’t impede the club’s progress.
There’s also the fact he’s already worked with coaches who’ll be on his staff. Of Matheny’s coaches, at least first base coach Damon Hollins and the hitting staff—Alec Zumwalt, Keoni DeRenne and Mike Tosar—will, according to MLB.com’s Anne Rogers, be back next season:
Grifol presents yet another plus—after 10 years with the franchise, he knows the organization well.
But is he the best candidate to manage the Royals? Time, and Picollo’s search, will tell.
The search for a new manager is under way with Pedro Grifol a strong candidate.